Ten years ago, Jasper Cole stepped onto the set of Jorma Taccone’s MacGruber, a satirical action-comedy starring TV funnyman Will Forte as a MacGyver-type who gets the opportunity to finally take down a long-time enemy. Cole, who had been working largely in TV up until that point, would play the villainous Zeke. Nearly a decade after the film’s release, Cole talks about the cult status the film has garnered, his new projects and why he doesn’t mind that the film ended up seeing him ultimately typecast.
You’ve remained constantly in-demand for the better part of thirty years, Jasper – what’s your secret?
Jasper Cole: Thanks so much. I’m blessed and grateful to still be working after so many years. I was lucky to eventually get “typecast” as a bad guy. I always say it took me years to finally get on any list at all. I hope its my work ethic that keeps me working. Producers know that there are no parts too big or too small for me. I like to work with the same people a lot and I know it’s team effort and it truly takes a village to make a film or TV show so I’m just there to serve the writer/director/producers purpose and to help tell their stories. At the end pf the day it’s a job like any other and we all just wanna do good work, earn an honest living and take care of our families like most Americans.
Do you chase certain roles or do they chase you?
Jasper Cole: Well that’s a great question. When I was younger and starting out, I definitely chased lots of roles. It was a constant hustle to be seen and get cast. As I’ve gotten older and now have a body of work, I don’t have to hustle in the same way but the hustle is still real but in a different way. I have to remain open to changing with the times and to roll with it and try to work with new young directors and producers who may not know me or my work.
And is there a part you believe really started to open doors for you?
Jasper Cole:MacGruber was my biggest studio film role and it opened many doors after it came out for sure. I went in for much bigger projects and met with directors like the Coen Brothers and others. I got to become part of the Comic Con family in San Diego and others and have fans from all around the world since MacGruber now has a cult like following especially in the college age audiences.
Hard to believe it’s been nearly a decade since MacGruber – though I guess even though the film was released in 2010 you were shooting it over the previous year, meaning it is well over ten years ago for you?
Jasper Cole: Wow – you’re right, time flies. We shot in Albuquerque in the middle of August in the desert so I’ll never forget that heat lol. It was the year before Kristin Wiig exploded onto the screens in Bridesmaids so it’s great looking back on that time. I also got to work with the legendary Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers along with Will Forte, Ryan Phillipe, Powers Booth, Maya Rudolph, my buddies Timothy Murphy, Andy Mackenzie and of course the iconic Val Kilmer. Loved the director Jorma Taccone from The Lonely Island with Andy Sanberg who I later worked with on Brooklyn Nine-Nine as well. Small world!
How did you get the part originally?
Jasper Cole: It was just another audition with the wonderful casting director Sheila Jaffe. On tape for the producers and directors. I didn’t actually meet Jorma until I arrived on set in New Mexico.
Did you sit down and watch any similar turns from ‘henchmen’ in the movies before filming?’
Jasper Cole: One of my favorite films is The Untouchables and they were all so cool to me. I always draw inspiration from them as well as other classics like Heat – ironically also with Val Kilmer.
You and Val Kilmer had great onscreen chemistry – how was it to work with him?
Jasper Cole: He was fantastic. In fact, it was one of his first ever comedies. I love how he played it so straight forward and real. He lived in New Mexico at the time so he would often drive to set from his home. There were rumors at that time that he was gonna run for Governor of New Mexico so we had some really interesting political talks to say the least [Laughs]
So many memorable moments for you both in that movie, too – do you have a personal favorite?
My favorite memory was actually off set. The night before we started shooting Lorne took the whole cast and crew out to dinner to meet each other and to spend time together. And Tim Murphy and I had a great hike one day when we came upon two young hikers, one was suffering from heat exhaustion and we called 911 and the rangers and we stayed with them until help arrived. Then days later we were at lunch at a local restaurant when they both walked in together and we were so relieved to know he was ok since we didn’t know what happened after the ambulance took them away.
Why do you think MacGruber worked so well?
Jasper Cole: The chemistry with Will and Kristin which they had established on SNL and all the actors just really meshed well together. Jorma the director knows comedy so well as he ws also a writer on SNL along with is fellow Lonely Island member Akiva Shafer.
Are you surprised we haven’t seen a sequel?
Jasper Cole: I am surprised… although I do know Will has been working on one for a while so don’t be surprised if it comes back. I told Jorma I’d like Zeke to come back from the dead – Zombie-Zeke!
Have you stayed in touch with any of your co-stars?
Jasper Cole: I touch base with Jorma on social media and Andy Mackenzie and Tim Murphy and I see each other occasionally at auditions. Both Tim and Andy are now Fathers and are so bust raising kids and working. I did have Andy and Tim on my radio show “One On One With Jasper Cole” back in 2012 and that was fun.
And now you’re starring in a film with the wonderful Kathy Baker. Tell us how Anyone Home? came to be?
Jasper Cole: A wonderful casting director Kendra Patterson offered me the role after I has auditioned for her for a number of different TV roles. It’s a rarity not to have to audition these days so I was truly grateful to her. Kathy Baker is amazing as is the whole cast and the Wrier/Director Patrick Cunningham and co-wrier/producer Will Frank.
And how would you describe the character you played in it?
Jasper Cole: Walker is described as a “desert rat” living off the grid in a beat up RV camper with is loyal dog. He’s an odd guy to say the least and he stumbles in to a situation that goes from bad to worse really fast.
I imagine it’s a much more serious piece than MacGruber then? And therefore the mood on the set was a lot more serious and sombre?
Jasper Cole: It was intense at times but in between takes we all had lots of laughs. We shot long nights and did several re-shoots months later on the film. It’s been a long journey from filming to finally being released but it turned out so good it is well worth the wait.
Did you enjoy working with Ms. Baker?
Jasper Cole: I’m bummed that I don’t have any scenes with her but I did watch her work and she’s so lovely as a person and so nice to be around. A true pro and delivers every take after take and she plays a really tough lady in this film.
We’d be remiss to ask, you featured in a very prominent episode of the CBS series Training Day. What are your memories of Bill Paxton?
Jasper Cole: It is one of my best TV guest stars to date. Bill’s real-life son James was also guest starring in that episode so I got to work with both of them along with mu buddy Louis Werthum from Westworld. I had also worked with the same producers and other shows like The Forgotten and CSI and more recently I play “Crack Head Fred” on The Rookie which they also produce. Losing Bill was a great shock and tragedy. He told us about his upcoming heart surgery and it was supposed to be pretty routine. Such a loss. God bless him and his family. I’m forever grateful to have worked with him.
Anyone Home? is out now on VOD at places like iTunes through Gravitas Ventures.
A single mother suffering from bipolar disorder begins to entertain dangerous fantasies while working as a live-in caretaker of an unsold model home. Isolated and under enormous pressures-from the local realtor and her own unrealistic expectations – she descends into a nightmare far more powerful than any American Dream.